Just a few quick notes about some Ben-Hur things that popped up last week.
The main item is a piece in The Christian Post in which producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey connected their film to the recent mass shooting in Orlando:
“There’s things clearly happening in the world and we put this film together to impact culture with the message of love and forgiveness and reconciliation and that’s needed now more than ever,” Roma Downey, former “Touched By An Angel” star, said at a Los Angeles screening of “Ben-Hur” about the Orlando shooting.
When asked how she and her husband, Mark Burnett, hope to spread the message of forgiveness in these dark times, she maintained she plans to do so by one act of kindness at a time.
“At our production company, Lightworkers Media, we have a mantra that ‘It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness.’ It’s something that we have been committed to doing in the content that we create. That there would be at the heart of it, hope and mercy and I think that this film at this time hopefully can offer some type of balm for the hurting world that we live in,” Downey told The Christian Post.
She added, “It’s just a movie and we’re just movie makers but this film comes to the audience as an action adventure movie and it doesnt disappoint on that. It hold within it these more important deeper themes of reconciliation, forgiveness, love and of mercy. The best we can hope is that these things will touch and open hearts.”
“On a non-faith level, identifying with cool tough characters who you wanna be like and seeing how they forgave each other is probably a thing to mirror,” Burnett told CP. “Then you overlay the story of Jesus through that and some people will connect. The way it was shot, Jesus was speaking directly to Judah [Ben-hur] and I bet you many people that day at the crucifixion thought he was speaking to them and in fact he was, so that’s interesting within itself.”
Meanwhile, Motive Entertainment announced via e-mail that Rick Warren will host a simulcast to promote the film on July 10; you can register for that event here.1
Finally, the makers of this film are hosting a Ben-Hur sweepstakes. The winner will get “economy-class airfare to Tel Aviv, four-night hotel stay, round-trip transfers from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and a full-day group tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.”
1. Beware: the simulcast registration site talks about “using” the film as an “evangelism tool”. It also claims that the 1959 version of Ben-Hur marked “the first time a highly acclaimed, major Hollywood motion picture carried the story of Jesus as a central figure,” but, um, even if we bracket off the silent era — including the 1925 version of Ben-Hur, in which Jesus arguably played a more significant role — what about other 1950s Bible epics like 1953’s The Robe, in which Jesus has an actual line of dialogue?